Causes of Hearing Loss - North Carolina Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat

Some Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.

Not all hearing loss is present at birth.

Temporary hearing loss can be caused by fluid or Otitis Media (most commonly called ear infections). 

Permanent hearing loss may result from:

  • Factors affecting the mother during pregnancy or factors affecting the babyafter birth.
  • Genetics, head injuries, certain infections such as meningitis, or medications.
  • Aging and noise exposure.

 

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur if any part of the hearing system (the outer ear, the middle ear, or the inner ear) is damaged. Your hearing loss may be described as conductive, sensorineural, or mixed.

Conductive Hearing Loss

With Conductive Hearing Loss sound is heard weak or muffled.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage, disease, or malformation of the outer or the middle ear. The sound waves are prevented from reaching the inner ear.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

With Sensorineural Hearing Loss sound is heard as weak or distorted.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage, disease, or malformation of the inner ear. The inner ear and / or the hearing nerve cannot send the proper electrical impulses to the brain.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss.

 

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Mild (26 to 40 dB)

With Mild Hearing Loss, the individual:

  • May miss 25-40% of speech sounds
  • Will miss some consonant sounds, but will hear vowel sounds more clearly
  • Without amplification and you can miss 50% of classroom or group discussion
  • Speech may be difficult to understand

Moderate (41-60 dB)

With Moderate Hearing Loss, the individual:

  • May miss 50-100% of speech sounds, which will in turn affect speech and language development
  • Omits and distorts consonants
  • Will be difficult to understand

Severe (65-85 dB)

With Severe Hearing Loss, the individual:

  • Will hear loud voices but will be unable to understand speech
  • Will hear environmental sounds
  • Difficulty in school / group situations (both one-on-one and in groups)
If your child has Profound Hearing Loss, speech and language are likely not to develop normally without special training.

Profound (Greater than or equal to 90)

With Profound Hearing Loss, the individual:

  • Does not hear any speech
  • May be aware of vibrations
  • May rely on vision rather than hearing as primary means of communication and learning
  • Articulation, pitch, and rhythm will likely be poor

 

Strategies to Help the Degree of Hearing Loss

Mild (26 to 40 dB)

Strategies for Mild Hearing Loss may include:

  • Amplification (hearing aids and/or other assistive devices)
  • Speech and/or Auditory therapy

Moderate (41-60 dB)

Strategies for Moderate Hearing Loss may include:

  • Amplification (hearing aids and/or other assistive devices, such as an FM system)
  • Speech/Language services
  • Educational support

Severe (65-85 dB)

Strategies for Severe Hearing Loss may include:

  • Amplification (hearing aids and other assistive devices, such as an FM system)
  • Educational support with an emphasis on language, reading, and writing skills
  • Speech/Language services
  • May Benefit from manual communication

Profound (Greater than or equal to 90 dB)

Strategies for Profound Hearing Loss may include:

  • Amplification (hearing aids and other assistive devices, such as an FM system)
  • May need to be enrolled in a special program for the deaf child
  • Manual communication may be very helpful for the child to communicate